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Structure of Mafia crime family

A caporegime or capodecina, usually shortened to just a capo, is a term used in the Mafia for a high-ranking made member of a crime family who heads a "crew" of soldiers and has major social status and influence in the organization. Caporegime is an Italian word, which is used to signify the head of a family in Sicily, but has now come to mean a ranking member, similar to captain or senior sergeant in a military unit. In general, the term indicates the head of a branch of an organized crime syndicate who commands a crew of soldiers and reports directly to a boss or an underboss.


The Mafia, particularly the American Mafia, is typically divided into distinct and partially independent "crews" headed by a "capo" or leader of the individuals. Individual crew members report to the capo. The crew collects protection and other money for the capo, who at regular intervals gives a share (or "taste") of the collected money to the underboss and/or the boss. Estimates of average income of a capo varies and is difficult to quantify. Income is dependent on the success and size of a capo's crew and the state of the economy at the time.

Mafia crews are usually independent from each other, with members typically operating strictly within their own crew. Asking Mafia members how many crews and how many individuals are in a family is prohibited because of the Mafia's oath of secrecy and the suspicion that the inquiring individual might be an informant.

Sometimes a crew might specialize in certain areas like gambling, while other crews might be more involved in legitimate interests like construction. A crew might also operate in certain geographical areas.

The number of caporegimes/crews depends on the size of a family. The Gambino crime family has had more than 20 capos whereas the St. Louis crime family has had less.


In the Mafia, when a boss makes a decision, he passes instructions down through the chain of command. Whenever he issues orders, in most cases he gives them to the capo. In some cases, he gives orders to the consigliere, who in turn passes them to the capo. In either case, it is the capo who passes them to the soldiers in his crew. For years, this made it extremely difficult to indict a boss for illegal acts, since the soldiers almost never receive orders directly from him. A caporegime acts as an intermediary between the soldiers and the boss. Effectively, a caporegime operates his own small family within the framework of a larger family.

Each capo is in charge of a mini-gang or a crew of soldiers and associates that can range greatly in size. These men may or may not be based in close proximity. For example, Bonanno crime family capo Joey Gambino had crew members spread throughout New York's five boroughs and even had crew members operating in New Jersey. Capos have varying degrees of power. Some are relatives or close friends of the boss, which gives them more influence. A capo with an active crew that generates a lot of profits is always respected. For example, when he was a capo, John Gotti was widely respected and tolerated due to the profits his crew generated for the Gambino crime family. Despite their various blunders and mistakes, they successfully avoided getting killed by their superiors and were tolerated due to this fact. On the other hand, capo Joe Sferra of the DeCavalcante crime family was demoted to soldier and removed from his lucrative union post in June 1965 after a series of blunders. In 1984, a more severe loss of power occurred to Salvatore "Salvie" Testa, a once rising Philadelphia crime family capo. He ended up getting murdered by Nicky Scarfo due to the suspicions raised about his loyalty.

See also[edit]


  • Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caporegime — Please support Wikipedia.
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135 news items

Valley Sun
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 08:33:45 -0700

Frankie Velani was the caporegime, the captain. He answered to Mr. Davia, the Don. But if you had a problem, you went to Frankie. In Sicily there was a man called a “codega.” At night he would walk in front of you carrying a lantern to show you the way.


Mon, 27 Apr 2015 02:45:00 -0700

«Pauli si muoveva lentamente, ma solo perché non era costretto a muoversi per nessuno», riassume in un'unica frase l'assetto di un caporegime, lo posiziona nell'organigramma e da lì non si schioderà più. Qualche sera fa mi sono imbattuto in Paul ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:00:19 -0700

This semi-final has been a long time coming, long enough for a touch of paranoia to creep in. World Cup fever has not quite captured Sydney in the same way that it has overtaken Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. The city is just too cosmopolitan to ...


Courthouse News Service
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 12:41:15 -0700

A capo, short for the Italian word caporegime, leads a crew for the Mafia, supervising the activity of so-called soldiers, according to a statement from the Justice Department. Prosecutors noted that Pagano's conviction carries a maximum prison term of ...


Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:26:49 -0800

Pretty sure that's exactly the way Goodell wrote the script when he was Paul Tagliabue's relocation caporegime. Of course, Pacquiao and Mayweather have heard the same destiny and once-in-a-lifetime spin since the long-gone days when they were in their ...
Deadline Detroit
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 22:06:54 -0800

The site also names Tommy Andretta, a "retired New Jersey wiseguy who was a young mob soldier under the tutelage of Genovese crime family caporegime Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano and has been implicated in the high-profile homicide since the start ...

The Star Online

The Star Online
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 20:14:52 -0700

His face turns slightly more serious as he recalls details of his former life as a caporegime, or captain, of the notorious Colombo family. The Colombo family was the youngest of the “Five Families” that in the 1980s dominated organised crime ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:30:40 -0700

Piers Morgan, the former CNN talkshow host, has been appointed editor-at-large of Mail Online's US operation. The outspoken New York-based British journalist, who parted company with CNN in early September, six months after his primetime talkshow was ...

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